It would perhaps be jumping to false conclusions to assume that Joseph Ratzinger resigned from his papal duties as the result of reading that I called him “a malicious and dangerous old virgin” in the Huffington Post, but, as the religious are fond of saying, it can’t be disproved.

Ratzinger’s retirement – announced on February 11 – is cause for significant (albeit inevitably short-lived) celebration. I consider Ratzinger’s retirement one in a trio of absolutely glorious developments in as many months: the first came on November 7, with Barack Obama’s triumphant victory over a Mormon with hideous social policies; the second occurred on February 5, when Parliament voted yes to equal marriage. Ratzinger’s decision to hang up his red slippers is the icing on the cake.

Unsurprisingly, the wonderful news of Ratzinger’s resignation prompted shrill bleating from various commentators on the Right; Louise Mensch – a walking example of the great bulk of Catholicism’s gaping flaws – insisted on Twitter that the 85-year-old virgin should have just ploughed on through and continued in the job, no matter how senile, drooling or imbecilic he becomes. She went on to deny that Ratzinger ever covered up child abuse – a claim so embarrassing in its falsity it is tempting to ask whether Mensch is even aware who the current head of her own gruesome Church actually is. That Ratzinger deliberately and covertly shielded priests who raped children is common knowledge, proven beyond reasonable doubt, and any attempt to claim otherwise makes one look either ignorant or like an apologist for child abuse. Mensch is very probably the former but, if she is, why is she bothering to air her opinions as regards the Church of which she is a member? To exactly what lengths would she be willing to go to blindly defend the hateful pensioner? And – another bugbear of mine – why is she supposedly praying for Ratzinger if she believes him to be ‘the vicar of Christ on Earth’? Surely he has a far more direct line to God than she?

Timothy Stanley of The Telegraph proceeded to write a piece so poor it almost defies description, in which he essentially scolded the ‘media’ (of which of course The Telegraph is not a member) for focusing on the gruesome homophobia of the retiring pontiff. Apparently, Stanley’s rhetoric implied, Catholicism is perfectly entitled to its high-minded, apocalyptic homophobia, and if others don’t ‘get’ that, they just need to grow up. People are of course capable of talking nonsense on all manner of topics but it is on religion that they truly come into their element and let it all hang out. Thus sentences like the following can be printed, with no apparent shame or irony: “the Catholic church doesn’t do change”; “the Catholic church is like your dad: you might not agree with all his prejudices, but … he’s always there for you”. Is the Catholic Church ‘always there’ for those attracted to members of the same sex? Or do they in fact think of homosexuality as (in Ratzinger’s delightful phraseology) “a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil”? Are they ‘always there’ for people who believe that exposing child abuse is probably more of a priority than the protection of the servants of a long-dead Israeli preacher, apparently able to come back to life to be consumed in the wafers used in freakish rituals? Are they ‘always there’ for those who seek relief from a virus that has to date killed over 25,000,000 people? Or do they in fact say that condoms increase the spread of HIV? Probe even an inch and you will find it glaringly obvious not only how farcical the whole fiasco is but also how pitiful and depraved.

Though I think it unlikely, the next pope could, of course, be even worse for the world than Joseph Ratzinger. If you are an elderly male Catholic and hold a senior position within the Church you are extremely likely to hold similar views to the incumbent on subjects like abortion, contraception, and homosexuality. But I would contend that in order to be a worse pope than Ratzinger, one would have to be either a serial killer or a squirrel. The bookies’ current favourite – Marc Oullet – might perhaps be marginally less extreme on said issues, and has at least shown some evidence in the past that he is vaguely embarrassed of how crashingly stupid the Church’s views on homosexuality are, but he has of course no fundamental differences of opinion with Ratzinger. We can only hope that, if elected Pope, he shows a greater awareness of the enormous chasm between the Church’s stances and those adopted by the public, and seeks not to repeat the inhuman utterances of which his predecessor was more than capable. Peter Turkson, another frontrunner, managed to actually outdo Ratzinger and actively lend support to Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ bill, rather than just bless one of its signatories. In light of this it is fair to say that his appointment as successor would likely be more disastrous than Oullet’s. But I think it would also be the case that Turkson’s stance on issues like homosexuality might soften slightly as the result of the outcry against Ratzinger’s horrific legacy; for it to harden would be a terrifying prospect.

Joseph Ratzinger is a man teetering on the edge of genuine evil, and through very few institutions but the Church would he have been able to escape the legal castigation of which he has been for a long time in urgent need. We are seeing the departure of a real pantomime villain, a genuinely nasty old man who has served to stultify and indeed retard the plight of homosexuals – and many millions of other innocent individuals – across the world. I look forward to a time when future generations will look back, incredulous at such a preposterous phenomenon, and marvel at how such astonishing crimes against humanity could have been committed by a repugnant old bigot, claiming to have God on his side.

As with all comment pieces the views expressed do not necessary reflect those of PinkNews.co.uk